And so now we all sing a new tune and say that Oscar De La Hoya never even stood a chance.
Manny Pacquaio prevailed handily over the Golden Boy after eight rounds, securing a TKO victory when De La Hoya’s team realized that his pretty face is worth more than what the match will earn him anyway. Color me impressed with Manny’s speed and footwork, and though I was rooting for De La Hoya due to this weird counterprogramming I have, I was still very pleased when he threw in the towel.
A lot of this pleasure had to do with the infectious nationalism pervading through the crowd in Glorietta Cinema 5. I am sure that this wave of red, blue, white, eight-beamed sun fervor swept through every nook and cranny of the country — after the match, I saw a delayed telecast playing in the backroom of a Kodak photo station, I saw barbers joining security guards peering in through the outer windows of a restaurant just to catch a glimpse of round 2, and the store clerk in the bookstore I dropped by asked me a question before I got to ask if they had a copy of The Way of the World — “Panalo na ba si Pacquiao?”
And this morning was almost ruined by a Starbucks barista who felt it was cool to tell all his customers that a text has been going around that De La Hoya won. Idiot. We’re watching it live.
The national pride among the audience was palpable throughout the match. People weren’t just spectators but participants; they stood when the national anthem began, snickered when the recording artist screwed up the song, and cringed when the American no-namer totally botched their own anthem. Above all, they felt every punch Pacquiao took (there weren’t many) and erupted whenever he gave back (so it was very noisy). I’ve heard of this celebratory mood in the news before and felt I just had to see it for myself. And heck, De La Hoya actually seemed like a legitimate contender on paper, so I strapped in for the ride.
After the match, my dad and I started talking about who’s next after Manny Pacquiao. I came to the conclusion that Philippine sports relies on prodigies who can support themselves, and I worry that after Manny Pacquiao rides off into the sunset (when he’s around De La Hoya’s age), then boxing will fade away from the Philippine consciousness. The government could do a much better job at nurturing our natural athletic talent. Just take a look at what happened to bowling after Paeng, and what’s happening to billiards now that Efren is on the slide. I maintain to be cautious about a Pacquiao politico, but I hope that in the same way he has inspired people to be proud of our country again, he becomes an enabler for others to make their dreams into a reality.
But that’s in the future. For now, there is only triumph as the Pambansang Kamao leads the way for us to be proud again. I get Manny now. I get what he means to millions of Filipinos all over the world. But while I maintain to be cautious about how our society tends to squander our heroes, I concede that we could use all the heroes we could get. We need to believe in ourselves again, and Manny is doing an incredible job showing us how it’s done.
As a thought experiment — Would a Pacquiao-led People Power work?